NBA The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups  

Pedro Cerrano
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List Rules Only NBA Finals series, not other playoff rounds

The best NBA Finals series match-ups are the most memorable and iconic NBA Championship series in the history of the league. From the series that reignited fierce rivalries to those which pitted the best basketball players of all time against one another, these NBA Finals series stand out as some of the best ever. And this, of course, is a list of the best NBA Finals matchups of all time.

If it appears that two teams appear far more frequently than others on this list, that's because the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have appeared in the NBA Finals far more than all other teams with a combined 52 appearances in the 63 seasons between 1950 and 2012. The rivalry has been fueled numerous times but was at its height in the 1980s. Between 1980 and 1989 one or both of those teams played in the finals each season with the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar battling it out on the court.

As the years passed, it was the Chicago Bulls who would next dominate the league, much from the help of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. Especially memorable was the 1993 NBA Finals which saw Jordan and company defeat the Phoenix Suns led by Charles Barkley. Chicago would go on to win three more titles, for a total of six in eight years in the 1990s, while Barkley would play out the rest of his days without a championship ring. The NBA Finals matchups history can be cruel, depending on just which side you're on.

Whether the best NBA Finals series match-ups are between rival teams, feature Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame players or are the ones yet to be played, each tells the story of one team who emerged victorious and another who went home disappointed. Which NBA Finals match-up do you think is the best? Vote up the series you like the most, re-rank the list as you see fit, and add any we've missed to the NBA championship list below.

Check out more lists like the most hilarious internet reactions to the NBA finals, the best NBA players of all time, or check out the fittest cheerleaders of the NBA finals.
list ordered by

1
727 132
1984: Boston Celtics vs Los An... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1984: Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

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2
507 160
1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs Bo... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

3
502 233
1998: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Ja... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1998: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

4
427 218
1993: Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1993: Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns

5
349 154
1969: Boston Celtics vs Los An... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1969: Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

6
361 185
1997: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Ja... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1997: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

7
195 45
1991:Chicago Bulls Vs Los Ange... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1991:Chicago Bulls Vs Los Angeles Lakers

8
363 195
1980: Los Angeles Lakers vs Ph... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
birdiejay23 added 1980: Los Angeles Lakers vs Philadelphia 76ers

9
290 181
1988: Los Angeles Lakers vs De... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1988: Los Angeles Lakers vs Detroit Pistons

10
198 122
1992 Chicago Bulls vs Portland... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
Loko added 1992 Chicago Bulls vs Portland Trailblazers

11
149 39
1985: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Bo... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1985: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics

12
215 184
1994: Houston Rockets vs New Y... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1994: Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks

13
160 58
2013: Miami Heat vs. San Anton... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
Paul Nyhart added 2013: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs

14
100 48
1986: Boston Celtics Vs Housto... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1986: Boston Celtics Vs Houston Rockets

15
180 181
1970: New York Knicks vs Los A... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1970: New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Lakers

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16
85 56
1982: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Ph... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1982: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76ers

17
199 207
2012:Miami Heat vs Oklahoma Ci... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
MrTeamOnMyBack added 2012:Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder

18
152 167
1976: Boston Celtics vs Phoeni... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
1976: Boston Celtics vs Phoenix Suns

19
227 247
2011: Dallas Mavericks vs Miam... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2011: Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat

20
54 7
2016: Cavaliers Vs Warriors is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2016: Cavaliers Vs Warriors

21
149 211
2000: Los Angeles Lakers vs In... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2000: Los Angeles Lakers vs Indiana Pacers

22
44 82
1952: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. N... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1952: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. New York Knicks

23
43 75
1957: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Bost... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1957: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Boston Celtics

24
52 78
1959: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. B... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1959: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Boston Celtics

25
40 79
1953: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. N... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1953: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. New York Knicks

26
45 80
1958: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Bost... is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1958: St. Louis Hawks Vs. Boston Celtics

27
30 63
1951: Rochester Royals Vs. New... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1951: Rochester Royals Vs. New York Knicks

28
31 36
1947: Chicago Stags Vs. Philad... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1947: Chicago Stags Vs. Philadelphia Warriors

29
29 7
2016: Cavs Vs Warriors is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2016: Cavs Vs Warriors

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30
25 41
1948: Baltimore Bullets Vs. Ph... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1948: Baltimore Bullets Vs. Philaelphia Warriors

31
21 47
1955: Syracuse Nationals Vs. F... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1955: Syracuse Nationals Vs. Fort Wayne Pistons

32
20 49
1954: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. S... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1954: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Syracuse Nationals

33
21 46
1949: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. W... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1949: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Washington Capitols

34
21 45
1950: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. S... is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1950: Minneapolis Lakers Vs. Syracuse Nationals

35
20 44
1956: Fort Wayne Pistons Vs. P... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
DrewStiling added 1956: Fort Wayne Pistons Vs. Philadelphia Warriors

36
19 11
2017: Golden State Warriors Vs... is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2017: Golden State Warriors Vs Cleveland Cavaliers

37
16 11
2015: Cavs Vs Warriors is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2015: Cavs Vs Warriors

38
14 4
2001 76ers Vs Lakers is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2001 76ers Vs Lakers

39
9 8
2007: Cavs Vs Spurs is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2007: Cavs Vs Spurs

40
5 8
2009: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Or... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best NBA Finals Series Match-Ups
2009: Los Angeles Lakers Vs Orlando Magic